Category Archives: Video Games

Harmony Gold’s Case Against Harebrained Schemes Dismissed!

Harebrained Schemes

Harebrained Schemes

The case against Harebrained Schemes has been dismissed according to the most recent document in the ongoing legal battle against Harmony Gold!

The document, titled “STIPULATION OF DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE,” confirms that the judge has dismissed the suit between Harmony Gold and BattleTech creators Harebrained Schemes. The news is fantastic for all BattleTech fans and even better for Harmony Gold haters around the world. By dismissing the charges with prejudice, the judge has effectively barred Harmony Gold from bringing forward a similar case in the future.

Thanks to user CeeSea for notifying me by posting the link in the previous article on this ongoing legal saga.

Before we break out the champagne, remember that Harmony Gold’s case against Harebrained was incredibly weak. The images supplied in their arguments to the judge looked so dissimilar that even a half-blind person wouldn’t mistake the two for the same ‘Mech.

Locust

via unitedstatescourts.org

As you can see, Harmony Gold was arguing that a Locust looked like a Marauder, or whatever the Robotech equivalent of the Marauder was (Destructoid Officer’s Pod or whatever). The two only share the vaguest of similarities, and arguing the two are the same is like trying to argue a gorilla is the same as a chicken. Sure, they both have four limbs, a brain, and are carbon-based lifeforms, but that’s where the similarities end.

So Harebrained Schemes is in the clear, but that still leaves the case between Harmony Gold and PGI, creators of MechWarrior Online and the upcoming MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. In that case, PGI did in fact use Unseen ‘Mechs in both games but updated them with their own unique flair to make them somewhat more intricate as befitting a modern video game.

But as we explained in our last post, PGI found previous court case decisions that found Harmony Gold to not even own the copyrights to the Unseen ‘Mechs, and thus have no grounds to sue. We’re still waiting on the judge’s decision on that argument, but this decision in favor of Harebrained is a promising sign.

We’ll be sure to keep you apprised as this court drama unfolds.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

More News On Harmony Gold vs. BattleTech

 

courtesy of Bradigus

courtesy of Bradigus

Good evening BattleTech fans! While we’re on the eve of BattleTech’s long-awaited release, we have some news on the lawsuit front for the ongoing legal battle between Harebrained Schemes, PGI, and Harmony Gold.

When we last left our intrepid heroes they were asking the judge for summary judgment against HG to find in favor of the defendants (that’s us) without needing to go into a lengthy trial. It turns out that PGI found the results of an earlier trial that proved Harmony Gold didn’t even have the rights to the Unseen ‘Mechs they were suing over in the first place. Those designs were in fact owned by another company called Big West.

What happened next was Harmony Gold decided to amend their complaint and remove some of the specific language from their suit against PGI and Harebrained Schemes. This was in order to buy time and stave off a summary judgment against them, which was seeming very likely due to the shaky legal ground HG suddenly found themselves on.

Not to be deterred, PGI refiled their motion for summary judgment with mostly the same language as before after HG amended their complaint. I’m no lawyer, but according to Reddit user GoodTry3067 (and with kudos for explaining all the legalese) we could be in for a long wait while the judge decides on the request for judgment Like, to the tune of 6 months.

I know, I know, that’s a bummer, but chin up! It’s looking like we might finally see the last of the much-reviled Harmony Gold.

But not so fast. In a last-ditch effort, Harmony Gold is throwing the legal equivalent of a long-bomb, 600 yard play (is that what they’re called? I know less about sports than I do about law) by requesting a letter of rogatory–essentially a letter from litigators in Japan asking them to confirm HG’s ownership of the Unseen copyrights.

They’re not likely to get it for a two reasons: A) Japanese companies rarely, if ever, come to the defense of American companies, let alone idiotic ones like HG who litigate themselves into a corner, and B) any litigator sending a letter to the judge opining that HG owns the copyrights would be lying since they do not.

how I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

How I imagine this all went down (courtesy of associated press)

Rightly smelling blood, PGI filed a motion to deny HG’s request for a letter rogatory from Japan on the completely reasonable grounds that they should have sent this request way back during the discovery process and not on the eve of trial. They also assert, probably correctly, that HG is just trying to delay a trial and waste the court’s time.

“Piranha opposes the motion for several reasons, but principally because the issue of who owns the copyrights asserted in this case has already been decided by three courts,” wrote PGI in their request for dismissal. “In light of those court rulings, the only apparent reason for Harmony Gold’s motion is to create confusion and cause delay.”

Ouch. There’s no word yet on when the judge will rule on PGI’s motion, which was filed on April 2, but here’s hoping the judge finally loses their cool and tosses Harmony Gold on their collective asses.

Before I end this update, I have a special request. It looks like Harmony Gold may finally get what’s coming to them, and on that day we’re going to need some appropriately smarmy art commemorating the occasion. If you or someone you know might be artistically inclined and can produce an image of Harmony Gold getting either crushed, blasted, or otherwise destroyed by a BattleMech–any ‘Mech, even one of the Unseen–then please send it on over so we can showcase it on what will hopefully be the best news update Sarna has ever posted.  

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BattleTech Confirms Release For April 24th

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

BattleTech, the upcoming turn-based game from Hairbrained Schemes that we absolutely cannot wait any longer to get our hands on, has a release date: April 24th.

That’s right: in less than a month, we will finally get our first, turn-based, authentic BattleTech video game. Ever.

Along with the release date comes a fancy new trailer. Narrated by Kamea Arano, the deposed Aurigan noble who has a vaguely European accent, we’re given a brief recap of BattleTech’s history before she launches into the specifics of her political problems and the general plot of the game.

Of course, she also mentions how you’re ultimately a mercenary and can ignore her whenever you want. That’s why she ends the video with the promise of cold, hard c-bills for your trouble.

What really strikes me about all the trailer videos is the incredible soundtrack that was always in store for us. Continuing in the tradition of the Shadowrun series of games, BattleTech is going to have some fantastic music that is both somehow appropriate to the era while still being composed of ancient string instruments.

Everything about this game is looking sweet, so get ready to don your neurohelmet at the end of April. And if you haven’t already pre-ordered, here’s where to do it.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

An Ode To The Flea, Finally Coming To MechWarrior Online

flea

courtesy of MechWarrior Online

My friends, I bring tidings of great joy. MechWarrior Online is finally getting a ‘Mech that has been ignored for far too long given it’s illustrious and storied history. Finally, loyal ‘Mech fans will be able to pilot perhaps the greatest ‘Mech to ever grace the pages of BattleTech.

I of course speak of the noble Flea.

TP-1R Trooper

A rare sight in the Inner Sphere for centuries, the Flea had a troubled childhood. Initially known as the Trooper, it was developed by the Free Worlds League in 2475. The initial prototypes were so heavily flawed, however, that it took twenty-five years of additional development before the prototype could even be considered by the League’s Ministry of Defence, and even then it’s rumored to have required some hefty bribes before they agreed to take on the Trooper as their dedicated reconnaissance ‘Mech.

The design was rechristened the Flea in order to distance it from its troubled development. The Flea proved high maneuverable and effective against infantry and lightly armored targets, but utterly incapable of engaging ‘Mechs more heavily armed than itself. Excessive losses deterred the League from ordering replacements, and it wasn’t until Wolf’s Dragoons arrived did the Inner Sphere see the Flea in action again.

With the Dragoons using the Flea to great effect, the little ‘Mech gained a notoriety that eventually climbed to fame. It eventually became such a desired design that the Capellan Confederation’s Maskirovka raided a League factory for the ‘Mech’s schematics. Fleas began popping up in Capellan militias and then in planetary armies across the Inner Sphere.

Despite its obvious capabilities, the Flea suffered from several flaws. The FLE-17, by far the most common variant, was considered too slow after the arrival of the clans and technology allowed for XL engines to become the new standard in light ‘Mechs. Its armor was, likewise, insufficient for all but the lightest of combat duty.

Flea

courtesy of confracto.com

But largest of all was how most variants of the Flea lacked jump jets, preventing a ‘Mech named after a famously jumping creature from actually jumping at all.

The Flea was originally intended to be included in the first batch of ‘Mechs released with MechWarrior Online but was sidelined for reasons that were never explained. In all likelihood, the game’s developers were concerned with what such a small and maneuverable chassis would do for the overall competitiveness of light ‘Mechs.

That doesn’t explain why the Locust was eventually introduced before the Flea, but that’s neither here nor there.

The point is, the Flea is finally set to arrive, and I for one am very glad for it. It’s been a very long time coming.

Pre-orders bonus rewards end on March 31st, with the Flea itself arriving in game June 19th.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

New MechWarrior 5 Teaser Video Showcases Gorgeous Biomes

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries is looking like it’ll be even prettier than MechWarrior Online and will easily hang with the current generation of games.

MechWarrior has always been a series on the forefront of technology. Back in the day, MechWarrior 2 may not have had textures, but it made those colored polygons look just like those towering Clan ‘Mechs we’d only previously seen in sourecbooks. At least, in our minds anyway.

MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries finally brought us the most basic of textures and made the surrounding environment look just a teensy bit more realistic. Not that we really cared, mind you, but it was nice to see the developers flex their graphical muscle.

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

MechWarrior 3 really brought environments alive, finally showing grassland and desert and rocky plateaus–basically anything that was mostly flat and didn’t have a lot of foliage. Roads, rivers, and waterways broke up the monotony with a bit of color, but most of the textures were spent on making the ‘Mechs themselves look prettier than the last generation.

Skip ahead to MechWarrior Online (I loved MechWarrior 4, but it was graphically mundane compared to games of its era) and we finally have something that brings atmosphere effects, lighting effects, and even fog. Snow whirls around your cockpit, smoke billows from shattered ‘Mechs, and the night sky lights up with laser and PPC fire.

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

courtesy of Piranha Games on YouTube

Now we have MechWarrior 5. Last year at Mech_Con it was certainly a very pretty game, but the environments seemed rather dull. Sure, it was neat that you could smash through trees while walking through a forest, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before, and the forest looked kinda dull.

Well, not anymore. Now it looks positively alive.

But it’s not just the forest that’s vibrant. You can pick out individuals blades of grass on the plains. There’s actual lightning bolts while you duel beneath a thunderstorm. There’s red dust storms on a Mars-like world.

I didn’t see any tumbleweeds, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them added to the desert biome before the game sees release.

Check out the new teaser vid and be prepared to be amazed. This game is gonna be purty.

BattleTech Is Coming In April!

BT Wallpaper

via Harebrained Schemes

The day has finally arrived.

Well, not the day– that day will arrive sometime in April. But the day that we know when BattleTech will release is today, and that’s sometime in April.

On the latest Kickstarter Update, Harebrained Schemes has given us a launch window that we can all get excited about. They didn’t give us a specific day, so I’d expect the actual launch date to be later in April rather than sooner. But it’s coming, so it’s time to fire up the hype train because we are all heading into a dark tunnel with BattleTech at the end of it.

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock, BattleTech is the upcoming turn-based game from Harebrained Schemes. If you’ve played any of their critically acclaimed Shadowrun games then you know the quality of game you’re in for (or if you’re a Kickstarter Backer and got in on the beta). This will be the closest the table-top has ever come to a video game port, so if you’re not about the whole ‘Mech-simulation thing that the MechWarrior series is all about, this just might be the game for you.

Shadowhawk Skin

via BattleTech Kickstarter

But Harebrained didn’t just leave us with a date. Oh no–there’s also freebies. Those that pre-order the game on Steam get a free Shadowhawk skin and wallpaper, which also means there’s going to be custom ‘Mech skins. That’s a bombshell right there. And if you’re a Kickstarter Backer, don’t worry: you get the skin so long as you’re at Recruit level of support or higher (that’s $25 or more).

The Steam page has also been updated with a lovely advertising video that features Weisman, Gitelman, and McCain talking about their digital baby. It’s some high-quality pandering, but it’s also some good info.

The Kickstarter page also has some great new wallpapers (of which we’ve linked at the top of the page and used as our header image), and the latest backer reward is out which features a short story from the one and only Michael Stackpole.

Did I mention you should get hyped? Because you should get hyped. And if you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter you should definitely pre-order. Unlike most pre-orders, I can assure you this game will be quality.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

The Challenge With Balance in MechWarrior Online

The Challenge With Balanace in MechWarrior Online

via nerdgoblin.com

There’s a problem with MechWarrior Online. Actually, there’s probably over a dozen problems with MechWarrior Online, depending on who you ask, but the one we’re going to talk about today is one that is universal for any game, online or no, and that’s balance.

The subject of balance is something that has recently captured the attention of Russ Bullock, President of PGI, after an explosive video was posted by part-time playwright and full-time competitive MechWarrior critic Dane “Jarl” Crowton. The video brings a no-holds-barred message to the guy in charge of MWO in an impassioned plea to return something that has been sorely lacking in the game, and that’s game balance between various ‘Mechs, weapon systems, and even between the Inner Sphere and Clans themselves.

The Need For Balance

Now, before we even begin, we all know here at Sarna that the Clans were never supposed to be balanced. They were supposed to be vastly superior to the Inner Sphere in every measurable way, thus making for some interesting plot development. But MechWarrior Online is by design a competitive game, and when two sides square off in glorious battle neither side wants the other to have an unfair advantage as it’d take all the fun out of honorable combat. Like Clan MechWarriors or even Kurita pilots, honor is everything in MechWarrior Online.

But, as The Dane points out in his video, balance has been something that MechWarrior Online has struggled with and continues to struggle with today. And for good reason: it is vastly more complicated balancing a computer game than a tabletop one.

Spider

The Spider, a victim of of the infamous re-scale of MWO’s ‘Mechs.

For those of you who are non-MechWarrior Online players, a brief explanation. Let’s take the humble Medium Laser, a staple of both tabletop BattleTech and MechWarrior Online Inner Sphere BattleMechs. In BattleTech the tabletop game, a one ton, one critical slot weapon that deals five damage a pop is fine for several reasons having to do with the tabletop rules: fire rate is fixed at once per turn (as with many weapons), and since where you strike the enemy ‘Mech is (usually) decided at random boating up on an arsenal of 10 or 12 lasers isn’t as terrifying as even a third as many AC/20s.

Now let’s take MechWarrior Online. It’s the same one ton, one crit, five damage weapon, but the problem is the pilot can aim a bunch of them all at the same spot, making 10 or 12 of these weapons capable of coring all but the heaviest of ‘Mechs. Sure, the heat you generate will cause a shutdown, but who cares if your opponent is already dead? The incentive to boat is massive, which causes a problem when you want to encourage the equal use of the over 100 weapons systems found in MechWarrior Online.

medium laser Hunchback

The medium laser in action. Courtesy of mmobomb.com

To try and make the weapon remotely fair, PGI attempted all sorts of solutions: they increased the beam delay, requiring the pilot to hold their crosshairs longer on the target (and thus also increase the likelihood of either missing or getting shot in return). They tweaked range and damage fall-off numbers, penalized players with extra heat (called “ghost heat”) when fired in large groups, and reduced their cooldown so they couldn’t be fired as fast as either their larger or smaller brethren. And while all these adjustments certainly changed the Medium Laser’s performance, it remains open to debate whether or not they brought the weapon back in line.

Today the Medium Laser remains ubiquitous simply due to its efficiency – one ton, one crit, five damage is simply hard to beat when you have the available hardpoints for one.

A Tangled Web Of New ‘Mechs

No other game in existence has a larger challenge with balance than MechWarrior Online.

That’s just one weapon system that challenges PGI with balance. With the recent surge of Jihad-era tech, there are now over a hundred different weapons systems in MechWarrior Online, and each of them requires the same kind of tweaking to remain fair in an online, competitive game. It’s a monumental task for a small, independent developer like PGI.

A task that PGI makes even more monumental with each passing month. For some time now, PGI has released a new ‘Mech nearly every month in MechWarrior Online, and while few players would argue against adding additional content to the game, it makes the task of balancing every chassis nigh impossible. With hundreds of different ‘Mechs to consider (if you include each unique variant of a given chassis) ensuring that each new entry to MWO’s roster is fair in comparison to already existent ‘Mechs is a task for an adaptively intelligent supercomputer and not a small team with a few spreadsheets. No other game in existence has a larger challenge with balance than MechWarrior Online.

Clan Mechs

The Introduction of the Clans was the first major bombshell in MWO balance. Courtesy of mwomercs.com

Unfortunately for PGI, balance is a necessary component of any competitive game. If MechWarrior Online were primarily a PvE game, such as Warframe, overperforming weapons or ‘Mechs can be explained as simply being rewards for players who have unlocked enough of the game’s content to achieve them. But MechWarrior is a PvP game, requiring every weapon, every chassis, and every scrap of technology to be balanced for veterans and newcomers alike. No new player will be drawn to a fundamentally unfair game, and certainly not one as obtuse as MechWarrior Online.

Unfortunately for PGI, balance is a necessary component of any competitive game.

So how does a game with hundreds of thousands–perhaps even millions–of points of interaction achieve even a semblance of balance? I hate to use the word “unfortunately” twice in the same article, but the truth is there’s no easy way to program a computer to consider the player experience on top of all the hard math required in balancing a game. It takes years, a dedicated player base, and developers willing to listen to player feedback to achieve balance.

As small as MechWarrior Online is, there are still plenty of players willing to offer their two-cents when it comes to all aspects of the game. PGI has a public test server that allows certain players to test out larger changes, but that server hasn’t seen much use since the previous skill tree update, while there have been multiple changes to weapons and ‘Mechs in the eight months since then.

An expanded system which takes player feedback and turns it into useful data is certainly going to require a larger investment of resources from PGI than they’ve currently made, but it’s a necessary one for the continued ongoing health of the best–and the only–ride in town.

Well, at least until they release MechWarrior 5. Then it’s back to PvE madness and we can throw balance out the window.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

MWO Benefit Tournament For MechWarrior Family That Lost Home Due To Fire

Battle scene

courtesy of phoenixdominion.com and by spooky777

I know it’s the beginning of the year and the last thing people are thinking of is another MechWarrior Online tourney, but this one’s a bit out of the blue for a good reason.

On January first, New Year’s Day, a fellow MechWarrior and his family lost their home due to an electrical fire. Now he, his wife, and two children have nowhere to live. There’s the usual GoFundMe set up for this sort of tragedy, but waiting for the goodwill of men isn’t really this community’s style. We prefer taking things into our own hands.

To that end, this MechWarrior’s clanmates on MechWarrior Online have organized a tournament where the proceeds will all go towards getting this guy and his family a new home. Frag some bozos in multi-ton death machines and help people out while doin’ it; what more could you ask for?

And it’s not just one tournament – it’s actually three, held on January 20, 27th, and February 3rd. Each tourney will have its own unique spin on it to keep things fresh and exciting, and everyone who enters will have a random chance to win loot from all the movers and shakers in BattleTech.

Let’s hit the deets!

First, for every $5 you donate to the GoFundMe campaign you get to pick which event you’d like to participate in. Fifteen bucks get you entry into all three. You can absolutely donate more if you like, but it’s a $5 minimum to take part in at least one tournament. Email your receipt to MYCROFT000@GMAIL.COM along with which tourney you’d like to sign up for. Your receipt is your entry ticket, so don’t lose it.

solaris7_steinercoliseum

courtesy of mwomercs.com

Next, pick your tourney. January 20th will be a Solaris-style, 1v1 tournament, January 27th will be a 4v4 tournament where teams will be randomly assigned, and February 3rd will be a standard 8v8 tournament with similar rules to the World Championship.

January 20th Tournament

  • 1v1, Solaris-style matches.
  • Single elimination, best of three games tournament.
  • No restrictions on tonnage, equipment, or consumables, so you can get an Atlas versus a Locust.
  • Once you choose your ‘Mech, that’s your ride for the duration of the tournament. No switching loadouts in between matches.
  • Registration closes 48 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is an Ultimate ‘Mech Pack of the player’s choice, which gives you all the variants for a particular ‘Mech, the Hero variant, and a bunch of cosmetic stuff.

January 27th Tournament

  • 4v4
  • Single elimination, best of three games tournament.
  • Each team of four will be randomly generated from all participants.
  • You may change your loadouts between matches, but max tonnage is always 300 tons per team.
  • Map will always be Skirmish on Canyon Network.
  • Registration closes 48 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is Collector Mech Pack of the player’s choice per player on the winning team. Collector ‘Mech packs have 3 variants of the ‘Mech, a bunch of cosmetic stuff, but no hero variant.

February 3rd Tournament

  • 8v8 teams.
  • Rules will be similar to the MechWarrior Online World Championships (ie. Each team can have two lights, two mediums, two heavies, and two assaults).
  • Map will always be Conquest on Rubellite Oasis.
  • The structure of the tournament will be round-robin or single elimination, depending on the number of entrants.
  • Registration Closes 96 hours before the tournament begins.
  • Grand prize is a Standard ‘Mech Pack of each player’s choice, which has 3 variants, no 30% c-bill bonus variant, no hero variant, and fewer cosmetics than either of the previous packs.

HBS Merch

Now, say you’re a terrible MechWarrior and think you don’t even have a hope in hell of winning any of these three tournaments. That doesn’t mean you still can’t win a prize! All the big BattleTech names, PGI, Harebrained Schemes, Catalyst Game Labs, and Iron Wind Metals, have signed on to offer their support and have prizes available to all tournament contestants.

How will these prizes be given away? Throughout the tournament, various members of the MechWarrior’s clan, Sixth of June [6of6], will challenge you to a 1v1 fight “with various arbitrary and absurd rules imposed from stock loadouts to battling with nothing but machine guns and no front torso armor.” It sounds insane, but fun, and you get some sweet loot for participating.

All the details and rules are naturally on the MechWarrior Online forums, along with a heartfelt response from the homeless MechWarrior at the heart of the tournament, Safety Seth:

Simpson Family

“I cannot offer thanks enough. Moments like these leave the grace of tongue lost for expression. Know that my family, my pregnant wife Tamra (Freebirth scum I know :) ), my 12-year-old son Raven, who loves the RVN-3L, Nyxxie my 6-year-old daughter, and myself are humbled at such a thing. Thank you so very much.”

January 20th is only a few days away, so be sure to donate, email, and sign up for your chance to win and help a fellow MechWarrior out while doing it. Win-win.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

 

Community Outreach – TwinkyOverlord of EmpyreaL, Current MWO Champs!

EmpyreaL team

courtesy of mwomercs.com

Welcome back to Community Outreach! This week we have TwinkyOverlord from EmpyreaL, the reigning champs of the MechWarrior Online World Championships. We talk about how he got into competitive MWO, how EmpyreaL came to win the recent championship in Vancouver, and what the future holds for the best team of MechWarriors in the world. Enjoy!

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MWO World Championship Analysis with BanditB17 and mdmzero0

Ben BanditB17 and Mike mdmzero0

Now that the MechWarrior Online World Championships are over, it’s time to both look back at the tournament to see what worked really well, and also to look ahead to see what could be improved for next year. And I can think of no two people more qualified to speak to that subject than the two guys who have seen more of the tournament than anyone else, Ben “BanditB17” and Mike “mdmzero0”, the shoutcasters for the World Championship.

We sat down to chat about their thoughts on the most recent World Championship, the teams, and how things could be better for next time. 

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